Eclectic Topics in no Particular Order
Various Topics Discussed
Rabbi Michael Skobac of Jews for Judaism in Canada likes to say that many missionaries read the T'nach (Jewish bible) with "Jesus glasses" on. This is akin to "rose colored glasses" -- where whatever the missionary sees, if it even has the slightest commonality with Jesus automatically becomes a "prophecy" about Jesus.
Thus King David speaking of being thirsty becomes a prophecy of Jesus being thirst on the cross, and son on. . .
Rabbi Skobac will suggest that a missionary as him / herself "in the 1500 years Judaism existed before Judaism would any Jew alive have seen that passage as a messianic prophecy?" If the answer is "no" it should be struck from the missionary list. . . although we know it won't be. . .
The average Christian is at a great disservice. The missionary will begin with the Christian bible and read "backwards" into the T'nach (Jewish bible). Thus they assume the Christian bible is true, and they are simply looking for "footprints" of Jesus in what they call the "old" -- the T'nach.
Does that even make sense?
Where else in learning do we begin at the end and look backwards? Normally learning commences at "the beginning" and we move forward. However, doing so will eliminate Jesus from being the messiah -- so this is not how Christians are taught (including children). . . no they begin by being told "Jesus loves the little children" -- and while many a devout Christian may take a highlighter pen and highlight passages in the Christian bible how many of them really study the T'nach first and flow it into the Christian bible -- noticing all the contradictions along the way?
Even worse than learning the bible "backwards" (or sometimes not at all -- many small Christian children are taught "Jesus loves me" but they do not read the Christian bible or the original bible. . . they read "bible stories" which clean up the contradictions, the nastiness, the pettiness, etc. Indeed, the Jesus in the Christian bible never comes out and says he loves the people -- unless he is commanding that they love HIM first. "A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another" John 13:34, "Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him." John 14:21 and so on.
Does John 14:21 mean that Jesus does NOT love the little children since they are too young to understand what it means to love him?
Another issue with reading the bible backwards is the fact that the Christians "moved the books around." Taking things out of chronological order -- and removing them from the level of holiness (the T'nach begins with the holiest, the Torah and proceeds to the Prophets who had direct communication from G-d re-enforcing the messages in Torah but a level removed from the prophecy of Moses which was not through visions or dreams as were all other prophets, and finally Writings which is even farther removed and is not direct communication with G-d, but rather influenced words of men). The Christian translations of the T'nach move things around ignoring these layers of connectivity with G-d. . .
The Hebrew word for salvation, יְשׁוּעָה y'shu'ah, is a FEMININE NOUN.
It cannot possibly be a name for Jesus unless he was a woman.
Nouns in Hebrew are either masculine or feminine and the word for "salvation" is a feminine noun.
Missionaries ignore pesky little facts in their zeal to missionize.
There was a Hebrew name which is similar to יְשׁוּעָה y'shu'ah, and that is the name יֵשֽׁוּעַ Yéshu'a (masculine) -- but do we know for a fact that Jesus' Hebrew name was יֵשֽׁוּעַ Yéshu'a?
No, not at all.
Indeed it is very unlikely to have been his name based on what we DO know.
All the writings about Jesus were in Greek. There is no known Hebrew name for him.
So all the modern "Hebrew Christians" who insist on calling Jesus "Yeshua" are simply making up a name based on nothing really. Based on, what, the HOPE that his name meant salvation? As already pointed out the word for salvation is feminine!
The word for salvation, יְשׁוּעָה y'shu'ah, and the name יֵשֽׁוּעַ Yéshu'a are spelled differently. Notice not only the heh (ה) at the end of the word for salvation, but notice to that the Masoretic symbols (cantillation) representing vowels (Hebrew is spelled without vowels) are DIFFERENT as well.
So while some consonants are similar (with יְשׁוּעָה y'shu'ah ending with a heh / ה and the name ending with an ayin (עַ) the vowels are different -- changing the pronunciation.
The two words' pronunciation is very different: the vowel of the first syllable of יֵשֽׁוּעַ Yéshu'a is tzéré, a full-valued vowel having the sound of the "ay" in the English word bay and the accented syllable is the שֽׁוּ -shu-, whereas the yod in יְשׁוּעָה y'shu'ah is pointed with sh'va na, a "snatched" half-vowel that has no sound of it's own and causes the yod to be subsumed into the compound syllable y'shu-, and the stress in this case falls on the final syllable, -ah.
There were men named יֵשֽׁוּעַ Yéshu'a 2000 years ago -- but given what we DO know of Jesus' Greek names it could not have been his Hebrew name.
How do we know that Jesus' Hebrew name (if he had one) can't even be יֵשֽׁוּעַ Yéshu'a?
When a Hebrew word or name is transliterated into Greek letters, iota (I,ι) takes the place of the Hebrew letter י yod and sigma (Σ,σ or ς at the end of a word) replaces the Hebrew ש shin (because Greek lacks both consonants y and sh); furthermore in Greek, men’s names regularly end with -s (e.g. Ἀρίσταρχος Arístarchos, Ἀρχιμήδης Archimēdes, etc).
The Greek version of יֵשֽׁוּעַ Yéshu'a would be Jesuas, not Jesus.
Also, salvation in the T'nach always refers to our physical lives being saved from danger. Our immortal souls do not need saving. The meaning of יְשׁוּעָה in the Scriptures is very different from the way it is misused in by Christian missionaries. In Hebrew, it simply means being “rescued” from danger—typically by the rescuer engaging in physical combat (fighting) with an assailant who is attacking the person being “saved”. In the T'nach, “saving” is almost always associated with “fighting” or “waging war”.... I refer you to any or all of the following examples:
• “Just stand still and you’ll see HaShem’s salvation that He is going to do for your today....” (Sh'mot / Exodus 14:13)
• “HaShem saved Israel from Egypt’s power that day....” (Sh'mot / Exodus 14:30)
• “HaShem set up a savior for Israel—Otniyél ben K'naz, Kalév’s younger brother....” (Shoftim / Judges 3:9)
• “HaShem set up a savior for them—Éhud ben Géra the Bin-y'mini, who had a deformed right hand....” (Shoftim / Judges 3:15)
• “....and he, too, saved Israel....” (Shoftim / Judges 3:31)
• “If You will save Israel through my hand, as You have spoken....” (Shoftim / Judges 6:36)
• “....you didn’t save me from them....and, when I saw that you hadn’t saved me....” (Shoftim / Judges 12:2-3)
• “HaShem saved Israel that day....” (Shmuel 1 / 1 Samuel 14:23)
• “....so David saved the inhabitants of K'ilah....” (Shmuel 1 / 1 Samuel 23:5)
• “HaShem is my Light and my Salvation--
Whom should I fear?
HaShem is the fortress of my Life--
Whom should I dread?
If evil men approach me
To devour my flesh--
[When] my adversaries and my enemies [attacked] me--
Wow! They stumbled and fell!
If an army encamps against me
My heart will not be afraid;
If war breaks out against me--
On this [assurance] I can rely!” (T'hillim / Psalm 27:1-3)
The above verses (and these are only a selection—there are many, many more) demonstrate how the verb save and nouns savior, salvation are used in the T'nach, which is nothing like the way christians use them....
The only reason that Christians pretend Jesus' Hebrew name was “Y'shua” is so they can claim that his name meant “salvation”.... but they conveniently forget that the very man to whose throne they pretend he was the heir warned us with biting sarcasm about him: “Do not trust in princes, in the son of men, who has no salvation. His spirit leaves, he returns to his soil; on that day, his thoughts are lost." T'hillim / Psalm 146:3-4).
In D'varim / Deuteronomy 33:29 Moses said we are “a nation that has been saved by HaShem” and Y'shayahu / Isaiah 45:17 says the Jewish nation “has been saved by HaShem”, adding that “this is an eternal salvation”). Note that, in both verses, the words used were “has been saved” or "continually being saved."
So we don't NEED Jesus to save us -- G-d has saved / is saving us continually, B"H!
The Hebrew word used in both verses is נוֹשַׁע nosha, which is a nif 'al (passive) participle and literally means “being saved”. This form, although it may appear to be in the present tense, actually denotes a continuous state, independent of time, that has always existed in the past, still exists in the present, and will continue to exist into the future.
Remember. . . “Do not trust in princes, in the son of men, who has no salvation. His spirit leaves, he returns to his soil; on that day, his thoughts are lost." T'hillim / Psalm 146:3-4).
Recently the blog has focused on how Jews know that Jesus was not the messiah (he did not have the correct parentage, he did not fulfill the prophecies and human sacrifice is forbidden. The Torah also teaches us that no one can atone for the sins of another -- each of us is responsible for his / her own sins. That last topic -- our personal responsibility -- brings me back full circle to the intention of this blog.
The focus of this blog is not on Jesus (as a person or a god). The goal of this blog is to explain what Jews believe and to show how these beliefs are based firmly in the Jewish bible (primarily the Torah, the Five Books of Moses). The other books of the bible (Prophets and Writings) do nothing more but re-enforce what G-d already taught us in the Torah. We are forbidden from adding to or subtracting from the mitzvot of the Torah. Think about it -- the prophets spent most of their effort trying to return Jews to Torah observance!
This blog exists to help teach uneducated Jews and interested non-Jews the teachings of Torah (and thus Judaism) -- and to refute the assumption by many a missionary that Judaism and Christianity are "the same" -- except they believe the messiah has come (Jesus) while the Jew still awaits the messiah.
This assumption is false. There are far more differences between Judaism and Christianity than there are similarities.
Let's just list a few differences, Remember: what one Christian believes another will reject -- some Christian reading the list will say "I don't believe in "original sin" or "faith over works", but the list of what Christians believe is based on a majority of "normative" Christian teaching and beliefs:
A Jew cannot be Christian and remain Jewish. A Jew accepting the beliefs of another religion (gods) and rejecting those promises we made to G-d to do and to hear is endangering his or her immortal soul. A Jew can never stop being a Jew, and thus turning to עבודה זרה / avodah zarah (strange / foreign worship, aka idolatry) is cutting that person off from G-d and the Jewish people. That person is an apostate to the Jewish people until such time as he or she returns to G-d and repents of their idolatry.
The term idolatry in Judaism means any form of worship we did not know at Sinai, and any thinking Christian must realize that the Jews of Sinai did not pray to or through Jesus.
The website Simple to Remember puts it well. Jews do not accept Jesus as the messiah because:
(What exactly is the Messiah?)
The main focus of this blog is to contrast the differences between Judaism and Christianity, hence the subtitle "Exploding the Judaeo-Christian Myth." The idea that Jews and Christians have "so much" in common is mostly myth. Yes, Christians have the "OT" (which they call "old" but it is primarily used as a proof for Jesus, not so much for its own intrinsic value. A majority of the teachings of the T'nach are ignored in Christian theology -- including the fact that we are not born sinners, we do not need to be "saved" and that no one can die for your sins. . .
To a Christian who truly wants to love G-d and sees that path through Jesus this blog must appear hateful. It is not meant to be hateful. It is meant to be educational. Imagine, if your whole life you had been told that night is day and day is night. . . someone trying to set you straight would make you angry.
Jews don't hate Jesus. Jesus is immaterial to Judaism -- totally unimportant. In a way that would be very strange for most Christians to understand the messiah himself is fairly unimportant. There is only one G-d and to Him goes all the glory. The messiah is tasked with fulfilling some prophecies, but the true hero of the messianic age if G-d. The messiah will merely be His servant, as Moses was his servant so long ago.
Posts explaining how Jesus' birth disqualifies him from being a messiah, or how his death was a murder not a sacrifice (human sacrifices being absolutely forbidden) the intent is not to insult Christians -- it is to teach the bible. The T'nach (bible) is clear on the requirements for a messiah (which Jesus did not meet). The T'nach is also clear on human murder not being an acceptable sacrifice. . .
On the main page of this blog I stated flat out that any religious Christian should probably avoid this website. There are many wonderful Christians in this world, as there are wonderful Muslims, Buddhists, etc. For those who have no desire to learn, avoid this blog to avoid hurt feelings. . . Jews do not proselytize. Any non-Jew who wishes to learn is more than welcome to read these postings.
Tomorrow night we Jews mark תשעה באב / Tisha B' Av -- the 9th day of the month of Av. This day is one of introspection and fasting for Jews, for you see the 9th of Av has always marked tragedies. It began all the way back to the Exodus from Egypt and the Jews wandering for forty years in the desert.
When it was finally time for the Jews to enter the holy land. G-d commanded Moses to send "out one man for each patriarchal tribe. Each one shall be a person of high rank" Bamidbar / Numbers 13:2.
When the spies returned they told Moses "the people living in the land are aggressive and the cities are large and well fortified. We also saw the giant's descendants there. Amalek lives in the Negev area, the Hittites, Yebusites and Amorites live in the hills, and the Canaanites live near the sea and on the banks of the Jordan.' Caleb tried to quiet the people for Moses. 'We must go forth and occupy the land,' he said. 'We can do it!' 'We cannot go forward against those people!' replied the men who had gone with him. 'They are too strong for us! They began to speak badly about the land that they had explored. They told the Israelites, 'The land that we crossed to explore is a land that consumes its inhabitants." Bamidbar / Numbers 13:28-32.
Put this into perspective. These people had been slaves in Egypt. They had not only seen G-d personally free them from slavery, they had heard Him speak at Sinai. He had fed them in the desert (which they also complained about!). G-d shows them encouraging signs that the land is indeed plentiful and rich -- for example they find a cluster of grapes so enormous that eight men are needed to carry it (Bamidbar / Numbers 13:23). Now these spies came and tell the Jews that the very land that G-d promised to them is too difficult to bother with.
"That night the people wept. All the Israelites complained to Moses and Aaron. The entire community was saying, 'We wish we had died in Egypt! We should have died in this desert! Why is G-d bringing us to this land to die by the sword?" Bamidbar / Numbers 14:2-3
After all He has done for the people they still do not have enough faith and trust in G-d.
This was the first 9th of Av with a catastrophe. G-d says " [I will punish] all the people who saw My glory and the miracles that I did in Egypt and the desert, but still tried to test Me these ten times by not obeying Me. They will therefore not see the land that I swore to their ancestors. All those who provoked Me will not see it. 'The only exception will be My servant Caleb, since he showed a different spirit and followed Me wholeheartedly. I will bring him to the land that he explored, and his descendants will possess it." Bamidbar / Numbers 14:22-24.
The night the people wept was the 9th day of Av -- Tisha B’ Av. . G-d declared: “They cried for no reason; in the future I’ll give them good reason to cry.”
From that first Tisha B' Av to today calamities have struck the Jews on this date. On Tisha B’ Av, the First Temple was destroyed in 425 BCE. Nebuzaradan killed nearly 1 million Jews. Nebuzaradan cried out to the prophet: "Zechariah, Zechariah! I have slain the best of them; do you want all of them destroyed?" At last the blood (of the long dead prophet) sank into the ground (Talmud, Gittin 57b). On Tisha B' Av the Holy Temple was set on fire and destroyed. The fire burned for 24 hours. This was the end of Solomon's temple.
In 68 CE the Second Jerusalem Temple was destroyed on the 9th of Av. The battle against Rome raged for three weeks. . The last battle was on the morning of Tisha B' Av. Many of the structures adjoining the Temple were burnt or on fire, but that morning the Temple itself was still intact. According to Josephus (the Jewish historian of 2000 years ago), the Roman General Titus (later Emperor) did not want the Temple destroyed, but a Roman soldier threw a firebrand into the Temple. The Romans were unable to stop the fire so the Second Temple fell -- also on the 9th day of Av.
In 135 CE Jewish independence was lost to the Romans following the fall of the city of the city of Beitar, the last stronghold of the Bar Kochba revolt.
1290 CE and the Jews are expelled from England, on Tisha B' Av.
1492 CE and the Jews are expelled from Spain, on Tisha B' Av. (The edict of expulsion was signed on March 31, 1492 and the Jews given four months to leave).
August 1, 1914 (Tisha B' Av) Germany declared war on Russia -- the start of the first World War.
August 2, 1941 the Germans received permission for the "Final Solution" to exterminate the Jews in the Holocaust.
For three weeks prior to Tisha B' Av we observe a mourning period. The American agreement with Iran was signed during this three week mourning period prior to Tisha B' Av in the year 2015.
Yet, we Jews know that negative prophecy is always conditional. They are given as warnings (think of them as "IF you do X then Y will happen, but if you do not then Z will happen type statements).
Consider the story of Jonah and the city of Ninevah. The negative prophecy was averted because the citizens of Ninevah repented. The negative outcome was avoided through repentance.
The Rambam taught that a negative prophecy can be averted through repentance. Repentance can avert the consequences of a negative prophecy. The Rambam says that the very purpose of negative prophecies are to urge us repent before disaster strikes. (Laws of the Fundamentals of the Torah 10:4).
Positive prophecies are not conditional (think, for example, of the promises near the end of D'varim / Deuteronomy. IF the Jews keep the mitzvot (commandments) they will remain in the land of Israel (definitely a positive) BUT the "if" is there. If they do not fulfill the mitzvot they will be exiled (the negative prophecy).
"As to calamities predicted by a prophet, if, for example, he foretells the death of a certain individual or declares that in particular year there will be famine or war and so forth, the non-fulfillment of his forecast does not disprove his prophetic character. We are not to say, “See, he spoke and his prediction has not come to pass.”
"For G‑d is long-suffering and abounding in kindness and repents of evil. It may also be that those who were threatened repented and were therefore forgiven, as happened to the men of Nineveh. Possibly too, the execution of the sentence is only deferred, as in the case of Hezekiah. But if the prophet, in the name of G‑d, assures good fortune, declaring that a particular event would come to pass, and the benefit promised has not been realized, he is unquestionably a false prophet, for no blessing decreed by the Almighty, even if promised conditionally, is ever revoked . . . Hence we learn that only when he predicts good fortune can the prophet be tested." Yesodei haTorah 10:4
The Chabad puts it this way:
Fundamental conclusions follow from this. A prophet is not an oracle: a prophecy is not a prediction. Precisely because Judaism believes in free will, the human future can never be unfailingly predicted. People are capable of change. G‑d forgives. As we say in our prayers on the High Holy Days: “Prayer, penitence and charity avert the evil decree.” There is no decree that cannot be revoked. A prophet does not foretell. He warns. A prophet does not speak to predict future catastrophe but rather to avert it. If a prediction comes true it has succeeded. If a prophecy comes true it has failed.
The second consequence is no less far-reaching. The real test of prophecy is not bad news but good. Calamity, catastrophe, disaster prove nothing. Anyone can foretell these things without risking his reputation or authority. It is only by the realization of a positive vision that prophecy is put to the test. So it was with Israel’s prophets. They were realists, not optimists. They warned of the dangers that lay ahead. But they were also, without exception, agents of hope. They could see beyond the catastrophe to the consolation. That is the test of a true prophet.
The rabbis teach us that Moshiach will be born on Tisha B' Av (if he hasn't been already), and that, after the Final Redemption, Tisha B'Av will be transformed into one of the happiest days of the year.